Sunday, February 9, 2014

What Will Be YOUR Olympic Story?

Bode Miller is the most interesting ski racer on the world cup circuit right now. No one has had as much personality in the white circus since Alberto Tomba. Bode speaks his mind, he is his own man and he has accomplished A LOT in alpine ski racing. I have never spoken with him, but have talked to people who have coached him or worked with him and I believe that he is a very cerebral athlete. I respect his achievements but I respect even more that he says and does what he feels is best for him. I also think that he is good for world cup skiing, because it has been very conservative and at times, well, has very little public personality (politically correct way to say boring).

So this is not a roast of Bode. But I am using him as an example that as an athlete you have to seize the moment, because it may never come again.

Bode is the most successful male American ski racer ever, and certainly the most well-known. But his “legacy” could have been truly amazing.  He already has 5 Olympic medals (1 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze) and could win more in Sochi. Kjetil Andre’ Aamodt has the most alpine skiing Olympic medals (8 total, 4 gold). I doubt that Bode can win 3 medals in Sochi now (after no medal in downhill), and almost certainly he will not win 3 gold. So Aamodt’s place in history is secure for now.

In Torino, one of the most publicized photos of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games was Bode dancing with a girl with a drink in his hand, that glassy look in his eyes and his middle finger aimed at the camera. I was personally upset with him at that time, not because he was screwing up his chance to make history, but because of his failure as a role model. I am sure that he didn’t want to be one, but by being a poster child for Nike, he automatically became one. As far as him blowing his chances to win medals (he had 8 world cup podiums in that 2006 season so he was a top contender), I figured that that was his business, not mine, not anyone else’s. Many Americans had a different opinion, and he was dragged over the coals by the media.

He did very poorly in Torino (by standards of others, judged on world cup results that season), with 2 DNFs and 1 DQ. His other results were 5th and 6th. But hey, he partied!

In an interview shortly after his last race, he said that it had "been an awesome two weeks," and that he "got to party and socialize at an Olympic level."  

I still think that it was his business, but after dominating the downhill training runs in Sochi, he was a favorite to win and disappointed when he finished 8th.

He is a fierce competitor, so of course he is not happy after being so fast in training. Also, this is most likely his last Olympics, and he probably wants to go out with a bang. Even for Bode the chances at glory are finite.

Time is running out. I surmise that the pain of knowing that his Olympic career is almost over would be less if he knew that he had always competed to his potential. But that’s my opinion. I am 100% convinced that Bode does not care what I think. But that is not the point of this post.

The moral of this story is that for many of us, the big chance in life does not come around more than once. And for all of us, the chances DO end eventually. This is Bode’s 5th Olympics, but he did blow his chance at becoming a rare Olympic legend.

He has had (is having!) an amazing career, but he did not achieve all that he could have.

If any of you Olympians read this, consider what you want to do in Sochi. Most of you will not win medals. But do you want to compete at your best, to walk away and 30 years from now be satisfied that you gave your best, and were your best?

Is your Olympic dream partying, blogging, posting on facebook, tweeting, or getting as many selfies with famous athletes as possible? Then go for it.

Don’t do it for me, or your coach, or whoever. Do what YOU want to do. But do it 100%.

NOW you have to know why are you doing it, and consider if you will be happy with your deeds 30 years from now. Because A LOT of you will only get ONE chance to write your Olympic story.